Monday, April 26, 2010

Prayers for Our Rector

Just saw this status update on Facebook:

For my friends from St. Johns - just wanted to let you know I learned today that Father Henry was injured in a horse riding accident in Columbia. From what I've heard, he has a broken leg, his pelvis is broken, and he's had surgery to put pins in. He was scheduled to come home this week, but obviously, that's not going to happen.

Fr. Henry is our Columbian rector. He frequently travels to Cali to visit his family and to check on a number of charitable projects he sponsors there. Please keep him in your prayers.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Prayer Request

Please pray for my daughter's friend, Jessie, who was in a car accident last Friday. She suffered an epidural hematoma. So far, she seems to be okay, but she's not completely out of the woods. Add to this the natural sense of immortality in youth that diminishes the seriousness of such issues, and you can probably understand why her parents are also concerned. If you could lift them all up in your prayers, I would be greatly thankful.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Response to Calvinist Claims: Part 2

This is part 2 of my response to Dan Peterman, who posted on a friend's Facebook wall in response to some points of Catholic doctrine.

What follows is a clear exposition, by scripture, of the fallacy of the Catholic Church. Bill, you said that you have read them and that the Roman Catholic church does not believe in faith plus works.

I don't know where on earth you came to the notion that I denied that faith plus works were necessary for salvation. I have been saying just the opposite this entire time. What I did say was that grace is necessary to move us to either one. However, again, I fully believe that our response to that grace is a matter of free will. We are not compelled to respond to grace. Our dispute was whether St. Augustine held this view. I have several Protestant sources that see unequivocally that he did. They confirm that he was a limited monergist in terms of initial justification but a clear synergist when it came to sanctification. I would say that the two are intimately joined, which is what the Council of Trent decreed in response to the Protestant Reformers, who believed in (and still profess) a merely extrinsic justification, a one-time event. If my understanding of the reformed position is incorrect, please let me know.

The reason we believe that works are necessary is because sanctification continues the process of justification throughout life. We believe we are cleansed when we respond to grace in faith, but we continue in the process of sanctification, which is the growth of the Divine Life in us. Grace must move us to faith before any of this can happen.

You might want to scrape the scales off your eyes. Maybe, just read much slower. I have read the you sent me and they are speaking horizontally, that is, how man affects man. What we are talking about here is the vertical aspect of faith, how man relates to God

Please demonstrate which verses are speaking horizontally. We are to love our neighbor as ourselves, and John says that we cannot love God if we do not also love our neighbor (1 John 4:7–13). How we relate to each other speaks volumes about how we relate to God. So please explain what you mean. Speaking in generalities doesn't do us much good if we are trying to understand each other.

These are several of the doctrinal statements made on Justification at the council of Trent. After each Canon are scriptures that contradict that Canon. You will see the word "anathema" used many times by the Council. This means that those who disagree with the doctrines of this Council are cursed. In Gal. 1:8-9, the word "anathema" is used. The curse must come from God.

As I've indicated before, you need to understand what the language of conciliar decrees means. The phrase means "let him be anathema" or "let him be condemned/accursed." The phrase can be found in Galatians 1:8. (If it's good enough for Paul, it's good enough for the council fathers.) The use of the phrase "anathema sit" goes all the way back to the binding and loosing power of the rabbis, which Jesus handed over to the Apostles. The rabbis used the term herem.

Excommunication is a tool to prompt people to repentence. It does not "damn" anyone, as the Church cannot damn anyone. Only God has that power. The Church can only pronounce on a person's status within the Church. This was the formula in use to condemn a false doctrine or to excommunicate people who held or primulgated such doctrines. While excommunication is a regretable step, it's sometimes necessary for correction. However, excommunication is not intended to be permanent but to help people understand the severity of their error.

Therefore, we conclude that according to Roman Catholicism, anyone who disagrees with the following Canons are cursed of God.

No, they are excommunicated--no longer in communion with the Church. This assumes that they were in full communion with the Church to start. These apply to the formal heretics of the time--those explicitly rejecting Catholic doctrine.

In spite of what Catholicism states, the Bible speaks differently. Following each Canon is a list of appropriate scriptures countering the Catholic position.

It's a shame that you didn't read the rest of the council's document for the sixth session, since each of the chapters cite scripture for the teachings of the Church. Looking at the canons without reading the rest of the document is sort of like studying scripture as a bunch of disjointed and disconnected verses rather than letters, narratives, and pieces that tell a story.

CANON 9: "If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema."
"Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin," (Rom. 3:20).
"Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus," (Rom. 3:24... followed by Rom. 3:28; Rom. 4:3; Rom. 5:1; Eph. 2:8; Titus 3:5).

As I noted before, you take these verses out of context without considering the words of James 2:20, 24, 26, the words of Paul in Romans 2:5-11, 11:22, Galatians 5:19-21, 1 Cor. 3:8, Col. 3:23-24, and so on. The initial act of justification comes with a response in faith by grace, but we must continue to respond. Justifiction, in Catholic doctrine, does not end with the acceptance of Christ in faith but continues. Hence, our response through works is necessary. In addition, Christ says repeatedly that we must follow the commandments and do works of mercy: "If you would enter life, keep the commandments" (Matt 19:17). "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of my bretheren, you did it to me" (Matt 25:31-46). "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 5:16). "For the Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has done" (Matt. 16:27). He not only rewards those who do but condemns those who don't.

CANON 12: "If any one shall say that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in the divine mercy pardoning sins for Christ's sake, or that it is that confidence alone by which we are justified ... let him be accursed"
"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name," (John 1:12).
"Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law," (Rom. 3:28).

Catholics hold that mere "belief" is not enough. As James says in 2:19, even demons believe—and shudder. The question is whether we surrender ourselves fully and put our trust in Christ. It is an intellectual assent and a movement of the will. We believe Christ (that is, what He says), believe in Him (that He is God), and believe upon Him (trust in His mercy and grace). We also must have faith working through love, as Paul states in 1 Cor. 13:3.

Canon 14: "If any one saith, that man is truly absolved from his sins and justified, because that he assuredly believed himself absolved and justified; or, that no one is truly justified but he who believes himself justified; and that, by this faith alone, absolution and justification are effected; let him be anathema."
"For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness," (Rom. 4:3).
"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ," (Rom. 5:1).

We can certainly trust Christ's mercy, but again, this is not to say that we only have to believe. Faith is more than mere belief. Neither of these verses support the notion that faith by itself is all that is necessary. Abraham also circumcised his sons and followed the will of God. Faith was his first step.

Canon 23: "lf any one saith, that a man once justified can sin no more, nor lose grace, and that therefore he that falls and sins was never truly justified; or, on the other hand, that he is able, during his whole life, to avoid all sins, even those that are venial,- except by a special privilege from God, as the Church holds in regard of the Blessed Virgin; let him be anathema."
"He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him," (John 3:36).
"And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day," (John 6:40)... John 10:28; Rom. 5:21; 1 John 2:19; 1 John 5:13.

So are you claiming to be without sin? That you do not sin ever even venially? You never call anyone a fool (or raca as Jesus says in Matt 5:22)? Doesn't 1 John 1:10 warn against such claims?

Canon 24: "If any one saith, that the justice received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of Justification obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof; let him be anathema."
"O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? 2This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" (Gal. 3:1-3).
"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. 2Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. 3For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law," (Gal. 5:1-3).

You're equating all works (meaning works of Christian charity or love) with works of the Law, which is the exact phrasing above. He is speaking to Gentile converts who were being told by Judaizers that they need to abide by Jewish Law. This is the problem with prooftexts taken out of context. You need to juxtapose such statements with the exceedingly clear words of James 2, with Paul's own words in Ephesians 2:10: "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them"; or in Galatians 5:6, "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love." See, again, Paul specifically mentions works of the Law here and contrasts them with "faith working through love."

Sanctification is the process of Christ's grace working in us and changing us. If you don't see a growth in faith and in Christian behavior in someone who is a believer, their conversion doesn't run very deep.

Canon 30: "If any one saith, that, after the grace of Justification has been received, to every penitent sinner the guilt is remitted, and the debt of eternal punishment is blotted out in such wise, that there remains not any debt of temporal punishment to be discharged either in this world, or in the next in Purgatory, before the entrance to the kingdom of heaven can be opened (to him); let him be anathema."
"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ," (Rom. 5:1).
"And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross," (Col. 2:13-14).

Yes, this is just common sense. You are absolved from sin, but there are temporal effects of sin. If you have sinful habits, you develop a taste for sin, and it warps you. The Church goes further to say that these temporal effects can still be present after death. 1 Cor. 3:14-15 talks about being saved "only as through fire." Christ talks of settling your accounts before going to the judge, lest you be thrown in jail: "you will never get out till you have paid the last penny" (Matt 5:26). The book of 2 Maccabees 12 shows the Maccabeans praying for the dead. The Jews still say the mourners kiddush for the dead. We do this because we believe that "nothing unclean shall enter it [heaven]" (Rev. 21:27). We pray for those who have died as a work of mercy towards others to assist them in the process of purgation.

The point of sanctification is that we grow closer to God and increase in sanctity. We believe justification begins a process of change in us. Sometimes we complete that change. Sometimes we have a bit further to go. Since nothing unclean can enter into God's presence, we must be made clean, and God makes that possible. All of it is due to his mercy and gratuitous grace. God provides for what we lack. We do not believe in extrinsic justification (a covering up of our sin) but in an eradication of our sin and eventually the sinful nature within us—through God's grace alone.

Canon 33: "If any one saith, that, by the Catholic doctrine touching Justification, by this holy Synod inset forth in this present decree, the glory of God, or the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ are in any way derogated from, and not rather that the truth of our faith, and the glory in fine of God and of Jesus Christ are rendered (more) illustrious; let him be anathema.

This council declares that if anyone disagrees with it, they are damned

Not cursed by God. It means "excommunicated" or not in communion with the Church. Again, only God can pass judgement on someone's soul. No priest or council can do so.

Here's another way to think of the faith/works connection. We can sin in two general ways: by doing something wrong (sin of commission) or by failing to do something right (sin of ommission). If we do those things that are right, we are persevering in our faith. Our habit of persevering in faith (through God's grace) engenders habitual virtues. We become more Christ-like because we live in imitation of Him. Someone who lives like this grows in faith, hope, and love. That is what sanctification is all about. It is not a single event but a lifetime of continual conversion.

Response to Calvinist claims: Part 1

I am responding to a post by Dan Peterman to a thread posted on Facebook. I do not doubt Dan's desire to serve God, but I believe he is sadly misguided. I decided to post here due to the length of his comment and will be posting a link on Facebook on the wall of the original recipient.

I truly hope that unbelievers are watching. When evangelizing the idea is to indeed have an audience. That is perhaps the best thing about facebook. The thing is, I'm not here to win a medal, omnly to defend the truth.

I think what's more important in such dialogues is to seek the truth. When I err, I need to admit it, and vice versa. If you come in assuming you have it and are impervious to the words of others, you may be thwarting the Holy Spirit's intention on instructing you.

I vehemently stand against the Catholic church and I will say so at any forum, public or private. The idolatry, superstition and anti-biblical nature of the papacy causes a stench that can be smelt for miles by authentic Christians.

You are mistaken. If it were true, then the 1.2 billion Catholics and additional 400,00 Orthodox currently living would be in error, in contradiction to Christ's promise to Peter and the Apostles in Matthew 16:18. Essentially, you're saying that the Christians who lived for 1500 years prior to the Reformation are inauthentic. So where was the Church against which the gates of Hell wouldn't prevail? Your claims would make Jesus a liar, and I reject them.

Now Bill, first of all I want to make it painfully clear that we are comparing apples to oranges. As a Bible-believing Christian I just do not approach scripture the way you do. I come empty handed, trusting that Go has given me His Holy Word and my the leading of the Holy Spirit I will know what that Word is. In other words, I do not need the Pope to do my interpreting for me. I do not believe that men can be infallible.

If you come to scripture without the context in which it was given, then you do come empty handed, and perhaps doubly handicapped if you don't read scriptural Greek. God has given you scripture through the Church and not apart from it. You read your translation of scripture (twice removed), but interpret it in light of your culture and language (2000 years removed). If your doctrine were correct, the Protestant churches would be far less fragmented. Yet you insist that you are guided. Joe Protestant also insists that he is guided. Each of you interprets in ways that are diametrically opposed. Can the Holy Spirit be this divided against itself? "A house divided cannot stand" (Matt. 12:25). The Catholic Church stands after 2000 years despite the world's attempts to destroy it. Where is the church of John Calvin? Can you count its divisions?

In addition, I don't need the Pope to interpret scripture. I need the Sacred Tradition of the Church, of which the current Bishop of Rome is one factor. In addition, "infallibility" most likely doesn't mean what you believe it means. It does not mean "impeccability," which would be absence of personal sin or error. It merely means that the Holy Father, when elevated to the See of Peter, cannot err when teaching authoritatively on matters of faith and morals. This promise comes from Matt. 16:18, and it is bound to the Apostolic tradition. The bishops and Pope exercise this authority together, and it is always connected to the faith handed down through Apostolic succession. That means that no bishop or pope can declare a new doctrine but can only affirm what has always been held by the Church and the faithful.

I am opposed to including so-called "sacred tradition" along with scripture. So when I read a dead man's writings, and I come across something that is logical, makes sense, and is also in line with scripture, I get excited. I want to know more about that person. I am excited for that person and the journey he found in life. I am NOT inclined to take every singl e thing he said for absolute truth especially when he is out of line with scripture. I believe that ALL who are born again in Christ are saints immeditely and this only in te context that they are inb possession of eternal life.

So what you seem to be saying is that you will choose from among the writings you prefer which ones authentically represent the faith, and you make that decision based on your 21st century understanding of translated writings. Instead of a Magisterium guaranteed by Christ to the Church, you will assume a magisterium of your own. Can you tell me where scripture validates doctrines taken from personal interpretation?

No other word is sacred or infallible outside of the Holy Word of God.

I won't dispute that, as we hold that belief as well. What we disagree with is the limitation of the Word of God to the written scripture. Even St. Paul acknowledged this (1. Cor. 11:2; 2 Thess. 2:15; Tim. 3:15) as did Peter (2 Peter 1:20;3:16).

Catholics view things in exactly the opposite, or sideways with regards to saints. I am only interested in the point of Augustine's life when he became enamored with a predestinarian belief system which is the Gospel. The stetement Augustine made was false in that it was not true. It is no surprise how much he struggled as he was beset bythe harlot herself everyday, the Roman Catholic church.

So you are willing to accept St. Augustine's words (note that I do not say "views") when they agree with your 21st century Calvinist interpretation of scripture, but you are not willing to accept his views when they comport with the Catholic (that is Christian) Church of the time? Mind you, I'm not only speaking of whether or not Augustine held a monergistic view of jusitification, but whether he accepted the sacramental positions on the Eucharist, the priesthood, baptism, and whether he believed in monergism when it concerned salvation/sanctification (as opposed to justification). I'm prepared to show that Augustine might have been a monergist when it came to the initial act of justification, but fully a synergist when it comes to salvation.

So I am not going to waste my time looking p your precious church fathers. As for the sixteenth century vs. 2000 yrs. of church history once again your statement is highly flawed.

I've already pointed out why you will not venture into the dangers that are the early Church Fathers. It is for the same reason that John Henry Cdnl. Newnan found reason to cross the Tiber, and why Jaroslav Pelikan had to (as an honest historian) concede to the claims to the Apostolic churches. If you read the early Church Fathers, you will find them utterly Catholic. They are completely immersed in a sacramental Church that holds saints, particularly the Blessed Mother, in high esteem.

On my statement concerning church history, I request that you produce documentary evidence of my error. Please demonstrate using nondiscredited (that is, impartial) records that the Catholic began at the Council of Nicea or there abouts. Your sources will be only Protestant... or atheist.

Bill, you make the mistake of assuming too much. And you what they say happens when you assume. Buddy, we are both using the same Bible for the most part, except for those parts the Catholic church has changed and not too mention the fact they included the Apocrypha which was even rejected by the Jews.

I can demonstrate that the scriptural references made by Christ in the New Testament come from the Septuagint (the Greek translation that includes the so-called Apocrypha) and not from Hebrew scripture. I can also point to the fact that the Hebrew canon was fluid until at least late in the first century and that the Masoretic text stems from much later sources than the earlier sources of the Septuagint. In addition, Jews accept stories from the Septuagint for some of their own festivals (most notably Hanaukkah). So exactly how are these works suspect? In addition, I ask you to explain how any of the books of scripture have been identified as acceptable? In Sacred Tradition, the matter was determined by universal consent and constant usage. How do Protestants justify casting out the Deuterocanonical books in use for 1600 years by Eastern and Western Christians on such a whim?

The history of which you speak s the same history of which I speak. The Catholic church has decided to claim it and say they are the only church. We could have a lengthy debate on the fact that the Roman Catholic church came about arounfd the time of Conatantine. There was no Pope prior to this. You assume.

There is no debate for anyone who knows anything about history. While Orthodox Christians and Catholics might debate whether one or the other is *the Church*, Protestants aren't, as an institution, in the running. That doesn't mean that individual Protestants aren't part of the Church. Even the Council if Trent, in the midst of the Reformation, admitted that any one who was baptized with the same intention of the Church and under the proper form (Trinitarian) was joined to the Church.

Yes, that means that you are joined to the one, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, whether you like it or not. While I might gloat to a small degree to your consternation (and that is my sin), I'm also gratitified, because I truly believe that you want to attain the truth and want others to find it as well.

The claim that the Roman Catholic Church came into existence at the time of Constantine runs up against a few inconvenient facts:

- The Roman Church clearly existed when St. Paul wrote his letter to the Romans, and clearly existed when both St. Paul and St. Peter were martyred in Rome in the 60s AD.

- St. Clement, the second or third successor of Peter as Bishop of Rome, wrote a letter to the Corinthians concerning authority and tradition.

- St. Ignatius wrote a letter to the Romans noting the authority of the Roman see based on the authority of Sts. Peter and Paul.

- That the Church has maintained a list of all the successors to St. Peter preceding the Council of Nicea. St. Ireneus actually recorded this list in the second century, long before the Council of Nicea.

So while I base my beliefs on documented history, YOU assume. I assume that documented history at least approaches the truth.

When it comes to Augstine, you also assume that one needs to read him as a dialogue. I hope that between this and my previous post on this thread that you can grasp what it is I am trying to explain to in regards to your argument. I do not need to read the dialogue. I can plainly see what he said. I told you that he wrote "A treatise on the Predestination of the Saints" after coming to grips with I Corinthians 4:7. He died a monergist. So your straw man was to tell me you were sad that I was reading him out of context, when I know full well where Augustine ended up standing on free will, which in factf was the context itself. Also, of course, in telling me I should read him as dialogue instead of monologue which is ridiculous as I have shown. Bill, the reason Protestants can appreciate Augustine is because he began to show signs of life as he was drawn up out of the mire of the Roman Catholic church and brought into the invisible church. I tried to tel someone else on hee that the word catholic isn't bad. I knoe I am a part of a ctholic church. It just means universal. But men have capitalized it and then paid homage to and worshipped it. Shame!...

If you were to tell St. Augustine that he wasn't Catholic, I suspect he would make the same retort. You take his writings piecemeal and make claims he would never make. This entire passage is a claim to your belief, not his. And when I say that you must read Agustine as a dialogue, I mean that he was responding to debates of his time. If you don't know what he was responding to, you don't really understand the whole point.

As I said earlier, I'm prepared to show that Augustine might have been a monergist when it came to the initial act of justification, but fully a synergist when it comes to salvation. And I will add that even non-Catholic sources agree with me.

I have said quite alot on here to youand others and it sems to just go in the one ear and out the other. I get tired of repeating myself only to never get a direct reply to a specific argument I have raised.

I share the same frustration with you.

I have clearly shown that Augustine became a firm believer in sound Biblical , predestinarian faith, but I'm sure you will still pussy foot around and never quite deal with teh issue. What is actually happening is you guys are bluffing your way through things. You always have as a church and you almays will. Thats what you have to do when you don't have a winning hand, or in this cse the Truth. I'm sorry man but I am going batty and I am well mawareyou are prepared to go at it until Christ comes. Just remember, eternity is a long time to be wrong. I would do a little more digging if I were you. I have taken the liberty of pulling of some canons and decrees again. I also have scripture along with them to clearly show that they contradict the Word of God. And for the guy who keeps saying that the Catholic church has renounced faith plus works and that Vatican II has renounced the Council of Trent, buddy I would give the Pope a call if I were you cuz you wrong!

Okay, you're changing targets initially in this passage to predestinarianism, which is a completely different point. I will address this later. However, I will point out that in the passage above, you have provided no proof for any of your claims, scriptural or other. In fact, your claims to proof have all been of the same quality. You can't even point to where scripture validates your claim. You can only say that you interpret those passages differently. Superb. Demonstrate your authority. I have none but the Church. You have none but...

Which reminds me of a great verse..... When the Sadducces were questioning Jesus hard on the issue of marrying and having your huband die and then marrying again and whose wife would she be and...... and then after they had presented their little riddle, I love what Christ said nd it fits so nicely here, he said, "YOU ARE WRONG, because you know neither the scriptures or the power of God.

Heh. And Catholics take Him at His word and outlaw divorce. How is the Calvinist position in support of Christ's word?

Friday, April 02, 2010

Good Friday—Times' Tone-Deaf Coverage Continues

The NY Times' war on the Holy Father continues unabated, but parties on all sides are chiming in in his defense. We're hearing from some interesting corners, as well. Logia: a Journal of Lutheran Theology has this article from John Stephenson. An article in yesterday's Pravda (!) joins in with the condemnation of the Times' shoddy coverage.

Even the New York Daily News is pointing out the flaws in the Times' coverage.

Cardinal Levada, the Holy Father's successor as prefect of the CDF, has given a length reply to the Times' charges, revealing them to show how they demonstrate no understanding of the situation, or at least no desire to present the facts of the case impartially.

Jimmy Akin has compiled details of the case of Fr. Murphy, many of the facts that have been distorted by the Times, as well as links to a piece by Fr. Thomas Brundage, the Judicial Vicar who handled the original case of Fr. Murphy for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Apparently, the Times' never contacted him for details on the case.

Fr. Dwight Longenecker is calling for an email campaign aganst the Times. If you want to join in and voice your disgust with the Times' coverage, you can email Clark Hoyt at I've also sent an email to the executive editor at I would suggestion, though, that you read Fr. L's sensible guidelines before you fire away.